Washington police are operating under orders to arrest tourists and other non-residents traveling with spent bullet or shotgun casings, a crime that carries a $1,000 fine, a year in jail and a criminal record, according to a new book about the city’s confusing gun laws.
“Empty shell casings are considered ammunition in Washington, D.C., so they are illegal to possess unless you are a resident and have a gun registration certificate,” pens Emily Miller in her investigative book, “Emily Gets Her Gun: … But Obama Wants to Take Yours.”
Under the law, live or empty brass and plastic casings must be carried in a special container and unavailable to drivers. Having one, for example, in a cup holder or ash tray is illegal.
She told Secrets that the police are “under orders to arrest tourists or other legal gun owners from out of state who wouldn’t think to empty brass and plastic from their cars or pockets.”
In her newly debuted book about the difficulty getting a gun in Washington, known for tough anti-gun laws, D.C. Police provided Miller with a copy of a recent “roll call” advisory that tells cops to overlook spent casings in the cars and trucks of city residents who have their gun registration certificate with them when detained, despite the law.
The advisory gives the example of a used .45 cartridge in a SUV’s cup holder easily seen by a cop who had pulled a District resident over for an unrelated traffic issue. “In order to comply with the law,” said the July 2012 police advisory, “the cartridge case should be stored so it is not accessible from the from the passenger compartment and the driver is, in fact violating the law and could be placed under arrest for this action.”
Because the driver had a copy of his District gun license, arrest was not recommended.
Tourists without that city license, however, don’t get the same treatment, said Miller.